HAVE YOU NOTICED how gas prices at the pump are up? Blame rising tensions in the Middle East.
Gas prices are up 21 cents in the past week as American thirst for petroleum remains high even after summer driving season ended.
The cost for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel was $2.50 in the Orlando metropolitan area Monday, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge. That compares to a recent low of $2.29 on Halloween.
It’s a bit of a disappointment after prices dropped steadily for nearly six weeks after Hurricane Irma sent Florida gas prices into upheaval.
Experts say the cause of the recent increase is unusually high demand for fuel in the fall and tensions in the Middle East.
Crude oil was trading for just under $57 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange Monday. That’s a recent swing up after oil prices have hung under or near $50 a barrel since May. Tensions between Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen and Lebanon have led traders to believe the supply of oil may be reduced if conflict starts. OPEC leaders are also set to meet next month to consider if there should be another throttling of supply.
AAA reported this week that demand is at the highest point in the United States since 2006.
Gasbuddy senior analyst Patrick DeHaan said high oil prices are only part of the turmoil causing fuel prices to increase.
“It’s hard to say why people are using more gasoline,” DeHaan said. “I don’t know if it’s because there is good weather in parts of the country or Americans are starting to drive less fuel-efficient cars again.”
The price increase isn’t coming from refinery issues, he said. Sure, refineries are doing seasonal maintenance, but prices typically still fall this time of year even with those factors.
The combination of high oil, high demand and falling inventories is a combination of factors leading to the high prices.
“There’s a lot of upward pressure, which is not really typical of a normal fall,” DeHaan said.
If consumers are surprised by prices at the pump, they can credit tensions between Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen and Lebanon.